US interns may work 28 hours without break

2 minute read

Had a long day at work? Well, spare a thought for medical interns in the United States


Had a long day at work? Well, spare a thought for medical interns in the United States.

The body that sets the rules for working conditions there, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, is proposing scrapping the 16-hour day working limit for interns.

Instead, it is being proposed that doctors in their first year of training can work up to 28 hours in a single stretch, and it’s all in the name of patient safety, according to a National Public Radio report.

The longer working hours could make patient care safer by minimising the number of times interns had to pass their patients on to another doctor to continue the treatment, the council said.

The longer hours would also “improve medical training by giving young doctors more realistic experience”.

“Training to become a practising physician can be compared to training for a marathon. You must learn to pace yourself, take care of yourself and recognise your limits,” council chief executive Dr Thomas Nasca said.

Not everyone agrees.

“Study after study shows that sleep-deprived physicians are a danger to themselves, their patients and the public,” director of the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, Dr Michael Carome, said.

The rules will continue to limit US interns to working no more than 80 hours per week averaged over four weeks, the report said.

The council is taking public comments on the proposal before making the proposed changes final.

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